Regardless of genre or field, few can claim icon status, but Kane Hodder has long since secured that moniker in the world of horror.
From turns as Jason Voorhees in four Friday the 13th films and the Hatchet trilogy as Victor Crowley and more, Hodder and horror simply go hand-in-hand.
On Monday afternoon, Hodder took a few moments to chat with iHorror to discuss his involvement in Friday the 13th: The Game and touched on the inner workings of Masterfully Macabre’s To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story, a biographical documentary on Hodder’s life and career that looked to expand upon the contents of Hodder’s book Unmasked: The True Life Story of the World’s Most Prolific Cinematic Killer.
From sleeping bag kills to the emotions of re-connecting with the random woman who helped save his life to the idea of donning the mask one more time, Kane Hodder had much to share.
Despite the spandex.
LE: You’ve made no secret about your desire to portray Jason Voorhees again, so how long did it take for you to offer up a hell yeah when asked to do the motion capture for Friday the 13th: The Game?
KH: No time at all, of course. I felt honored, to tell you the truth. Just because I’ve done it more times than anyone, I’m not the only one to play (Jason) and some people may like somebody else’s performance. I felt very, very happy and honored that they wanted me to do it.
I was all for it, because I had done something similar to that probably ten years ago for a game that was about a summer camp and a killer. We did the mo-cap for a while and then that company that was doing the game was purchased by a bigger company and shelved it, so it never happened.
So, at least I was experienced in the world of mo-cap, because it’s a whole different deal, because you certainly don’t look scary wearing spandex. Well, maybe I do, I don’t know. It’s harder to be in character when you’re wearing something like that, but the coolest thing was that I didn’t realize that motion capture studios had this capability, but while I would stand on the motion capture stage wearing my spandex, I could look in a monitor and see myself live, already animated. So whatever I did while I was standing there, I could watch myself do as Jason. And it was a Part VII (The New Blood) version that they were using. That was really amazing. Maybe that’s not so amazing but to someone who isn’t well versed in gaming, I thought that was incredible.
LE: Of course, a bone is tossed out from time-to-time to whet the appetites of those dying to play, but for the most part, details are being kept very hush, hush. That said, what can you tell us that will make that yearning even worse? An aspect of the game or game-play that even left you saying “Wow!”
KH: A couple of things. We were able to incorporate a couple of my favorite kills from the films into the game. Everybody knows what my favorite Jason kill is so I won’t specifically say, but everybody knows it and yes, you will be able to see that kill in the game.
The best part is that you can play either as Jason or any of the, I think, eight counselors, so you finally get to see a little bit of how it is to be Jason and be killing people and everybody can see the ridiculous amount of fun I’ve had over the years.
LE: Even in spandex, how much fun was it to get back into that Voorhees mindset and lay waste?
KH: You know, of course, I would have tried to surprise people, I hired two really qualified stunt people for the mo-cap. One to be all the male victims and one to be all the female victims and they just did a great job and I have to mention them by name. The guy’s name is Ryan Staats and the woman’s name is Tarah Paige, and she was so flexible that I could do things to her that looked just brutal when it was animated, life folding her in half backwards and it just looked brutal for some of the kills and I just wanted to make sure I mentioned them by name.
LE: How did “To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story” come to be?
KH: It was inspired by the book Unmasked, of course and (Masterfully Macabre producer) Derek (Dennis Herbert) enjoyed the book and thought it a great opportunity to do a visual version of the book, basically, and then get even more into (the story). I was approached and had a great meeting with him at a restaurant just to talk about it and I just got a good feeling from him, so I decided to go ahead and do it.
I knew that would let me make sure I’m happy with the final product before it goes out, and to me that’s of utmost importance. To be able to review everything before it’s released and say “Yeah, I like that,” or “Can we maybe get rid of this,” and (author) Mike Aloisi and Derek Herbert both agreed that I could do that because I don’t want to have something out there that I would ever say “Man, I wish I didn’t do that.”
Derek gave me the guarantee that that would happen and I said “If you want to do this, you have to do it really in-depth, and we’ve been working on it for over a year. We went to Hawaii to shoot stuff at the exact location of a couple of stories from my book, and I just felt that (Herbert) was the guy to do it. I believe I’m going to be very happy when it finally comes out.
LE: Masterfully Macabre wanted to take the personal stories from your biography Unmasked: The True Life Story of the World’s Most Prolific Cinematic Killer, and delve even further. What can fans expect to learn in the documentary that they did not get through your book?
KH: Maybe not too many new things that I didn’t talk about because I talk about a lot of personal stuff, but some of the same things maybe and more in-depth. In the book, there was a chapter that was taken out per my attorney’s suggestion and right now (laughs) that story that was deleted from the book is in the documentary. I’m hoping that I feel okay to still tell the story because it’s something very personal and I’m still debating whether to do it or not, but right now it’s in the documentary. And there are a couple of stories that either I kind of forgot about when we were doing the book or something new since. The book came out five years ago, so there are a number of good, interesting stories that have happened since the book was written, so obviously that would be included in the documentary, as well. Somehow I just seem to have really interesting things happen to me in my life, good and bad that make for (laughs) good stories, I guess.
LE: It sounds as though you will be speaking with a doctor in To Hell and Back. Is that the inexperienced doctor who made numerous poor decisions in your treatment or the one who actually helped you recover from your accident?
KH: No, the doctor who we’ll be speaking to is basically the guy who was in charge of saving my life after the first doctor fucked up so badly. I have no interest in talking to that guy again.
LE: (Laughs) I didn’t think so, but it wasn’t specified so I had to inquire.
KH: In the book, I believe I talked about the first time I went to see that doctor again and how he completely threw me off by admitting everything and completely diffused my anger, which I was shocked at. I didn’t think anything could do that unless he admitted everything, and I was like “Wow!” That’s one thing I didn’t expect from that guy at all, because he would never admit anything in the past.
I think we talked a lit more about that story but I have yet to talk to the doctor that was at the burn unit when I finally got shipped over there. He is retired now, but he remembers my case and that’s pretty amazing that out of the probably thousands of people in the forty years since I was in that burn unit, he probably treated thousands of people, literally. And for him to remember my case is pretty amazing and I have to think that’s because I was so bad when I got there. You know, 99.9 percent of patients he would see are people who have just been burned, so he knows exactly what to do. Now here’s a guy (Hodder) who was burned four months previous to arriving there, and it must have been a challenge for him to say “Wait a second, we have to do all kinds of different things first.” I had the staph infection and all that, so I’m interested to talk to him about that and I’m sure it’ll be fascinating. I don’t want to talk to him until we’re on camera because I think that’s be an interesting dynamic because I have nothing but admiration for this guy. I’d like to see what he says the challenges were because I had no idea, I had my own challenges to get through, so it’ll be interesting to actually talk to him on camera and I do hope that he remembers as well as it sounds like he does.
And then because of the Indiegogo thing, we’re going to present the burn unit with a nice check to help with whatever they deem necessary with the burn unit. It’s been completely remodeled since I was there, because I went in there once years ago but I didn’t really know anyone or have any contacts there. I just think it’ll be a really cool thing because my parents basically got an apartment in San Francisco so that they could see me every day while I was there for six weeks, and my parents were not well off by any means, so that was a hardship, too.
LE: In the documentary, you will also be reunited with the woman who took you in shortly after the accident and helped you get the care you needed. Can you touch on what is surely an emotional subject for you?
KH: I talked to her on the phone and the most amazing thing was a few years ago I was contacted by the Reno (Nevada) newspaper because somebody at the paper had remembered the story and said “Why don’t we do a retrospective story and run it on the anniversary of (Hodder) getting burned?” because the day that I got burned, there were pictures of me on fire of the front page of both the morning and evening newspaper in Reno. So everybody saw it and they said “Why don’t we do an interview to see how you’ve done since then? Say thirty-five years ago today this happened and he went on to become Jason” and whatever, so I said “Sure, I’ll do that.”
I did it over the phone and the story ran on July 13, which was when I was burned thirty-five years to the day, and around noon the newspaper gets a call (chuckles) from a woman who said “I read Kane’s book and I’m the woman whose house he came to.” I said “That is unbelievable. I hope it’s really her.” You never know. So she left her phone number, I called her and just talked to her on the phone and I asked some questions just to make sure it was her without, you know, being an asshole about it, and it turned out it was her. I was finally able to say thank you for what she did because I still to this day am not sure I would have done that same thing. This is a stranger who is literally dropping burned flesh off his body. Do I want that in the house or could he stand in the front yard just as easily under the hose. That was my thinking.
I finally said thank you, but what was really cool about it was that it was thirty-five years to the day from the burn and (laughs) it was a Friday the 13th. Now how amazing was that? I didn’t get burned on a Friday the 13th, but thirty-five years later, that date fell on Friday the 13th.
So we’re going to kind of recreate that conversation via Skype because I have yet to see what she looks like, and I’d like to see maybe her daughter who was three at the time. I asked her and she said she doesn’t remember it ’cause I was always worried about that, because she looked so scared. Just kind of recreate the conversation, I think it will be cool as hell.
LE: A theme of To Hell and Back is the idea of moving beyond the term “burn victims” to “burn survivors.” Can you talk about the importance of that phraseology?
KH: In a way, I guess it’s nitpicking, but when you go through something like (being burned) and you conquer it, you’d rather be referred to as a survivor. Just like you wouldn’t necessarily talk to someone who has cancer and overcame it as a cancer victim, because a victim does not succeed in my view. A victim remains a victim whereas a person who overcomes what they had been a victim of now becomes a survivor. I think it’s a more positive stand and I didn’t come up with that term or anything, I just agree with it and people just say what they’ve heard over the years. “Burn victim” is a common phrase, but I just think that burn victim is someone who didn’t survive.
LE: And a portion of the funds raised will be donated to the Bothin Burn Center in San Francisco, which was a large motivating factor in choosing Indiegogo, correct?
KH: Right. It was a huge, probably the main reason to do it. Also, I liked involving the fans in the documentary, even though I think some of the money will go toward production of the documentary, the fans kind of feel a part of it and I like that. Which is why I liked that we did the fan-funding for the video game, to involve the fans. They didn’t necessarily need the money to complete the game, but let’s involve the fans so they feel like they contributed to this game. It’s like owning a share of stock in the Green Bay Packers. Technically, you’re an owner on an NFL team. A part-owner. A very small part, but still it’s just kind of a cool thing to feel so that’s why I was all for it. Let’s involve the fans and then be able to give something back to the burn unit. Kind of a win-win for me.
LE: Over the past couple of years, there have been murmurs regarding a return to Camp Crystal Lake, and things seem to be moving in the right direction (for now) so far as a new installment of the Friday the 13th series. With that in mind, have you been contacted at all to possibly take your fifth stab at donning the mask?
KH: No. I haven’t, but anybody who knows me knows that I will just jump at the chance of that because I wasn’t prepared to stop playing the role when I did. It certainly wasn’t my decision and I think I have a lot more to give to the character than I was able to do in the four films. I would absolutely love the opportunity but you never know what the powers that be are thinking, you know?
LE: Once something is finalized and they move forward with a new film, would you ever reach out to lobby to get back into the role of Jason?
KH: That’s a good question, I don’t know actually. I’m not so sure I would lobby so much as to make sure that whoever’s involved knows that I would love to do it. I would start the “Hey, come on. It’s time to bring me back,” which I personally believe it is (chuckles), but I wouldn’t be so pompous as to assume, I would just want them to know that I would love to do it one more time, especially in a thirteenth movie. I would absolutely love it.
LE: As we had discussed, you’d done a biography, have starred in countless films including the Friday the 13th and Hatchet franchises, and now have To Hell and Back on the horizon. With so many colleagues, friends and family honoring you with tales of admiration for the documentary, has that inspired you to take a moment, step back and reflect on your amazing career?
KH: Yeah, I think it has. When I’ve heard people who I respect in the industry complimenting me on some aspect of my career, it’s like, wow that’s a pretty big deal when I think this person is amazing and they’re complimenting me. It makes you think wow. I’ve always been very grateful of the opportunities I was given and I realize I’m in this position because of the fans, no doubt. If the fans didn’t like what I had done I wouldn’t have continued playing the role, so I credit the fans with just as much of the credit as my performance, really. If the feedback had been “Eh, it was alright but let’s try somebody new,” I probably wouldn’t have continued doing it, I wouldn’t have been asked to. The fans help so much and that’s why I try to be as accommodating as I can whenever I’m out at a convention or something because those of us that appreciate the fans and realize what they’ve done for us, I think are certainly more approachable. I have never turned down somebody for a picture or an autograph because I should be happy they’re even wanting that. I’m going to say it’s inconvenient for me to take five seconds to take a picture with somebody? Come on. It’s ridiculous, plus I enjoy it. I went into this business to be a working stuntman and I would have been happy with that career. I never dreamed somebody would want me to sign something for them, so I appreciate everything that I have gotten and hopefully will get in the future.
LE: Finally, the Indiegogo campaign was set to run for thirty-three days and ends May 24. For those who are a bit late to the party but would like to donate, how can they do that and what kind of perks might be involved should they do so?
KH: I think some new perks have been announced and people know that anytime they come up to me and say they donated to the campaign, regardless of the amount, I always appreciate and try to do something extra for them because they’ve gone out of their way for us. There are some new perks, so take a look before it ends, I hope we get there because I think it will be invaluable for the production itself. Normally I’d say “Go to the page and donate something or I’ll kill ya, (laughs)”, but I probably won’t even if you don’t.